Renewal Lapses and Exit Questionnaires

Dear Kim,

I want to send an exit questionnaire to members of my organization who have not responded to three letters asking them to renew. Obviously, I would like them to renew but also finding out why they did not renew would be helpful. Was it because they did not agree with the organization or was it just apathy? What questions do you think I should ask?
—Taking It Personally

Dear Taking,

Often groups are so focussed on getting money from people that they lose sight of the MEMBER behind the membership dues. Trying to find out why a person didn’t renew is a good thing to do, both because you may get some good information, but also because you let them know that you care about their opinions and not just their check.

Having said that, you cannot conclude that people are not renewing either out of disagreement or apathy. They may have any number of things going on in their own lives and your notices are buried in a pile. Many membership consultants advise five renewals, then calling. Certainly, I would call and ask these people if they have gotten the renewal notices and if they are going to be able to renew this year. If they are not renewing because they disagree with something about your group, they will say so, and if they have stopped caring, they will say so. Most commonly, they will say, “Oh, I thought I took care of that,”or “I have been meaning to get to that.”

A big secret of successful fundraising is to remember that 99% of the time, 100% of people are not thinking about you, and plan your fundraising strategy accordingly. Good luck.